Young woman working on a computer. Tunis, Tunisia. Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank
“Girls programming isn’t just a cool thing; it’s also doubling the chances of developing innovative tools and making the world a better place for everyone.” These words are from my friend Julie, who has been working as a web developer for the last four years. She has also been involved in a few volunteer programs in Africa, mainly to train young women on IT tools.
If you are able to read this blog, it means you know how to use a computer or another digital device, such as a smartphone. And the great thing is that you may be a boy or a girl, from a rich or a poor region of the world. You could be anyone, really. Indeed, the digital revolution is not only happening in the richest countries. The generation of the “Digital Natives” is spreading all over the world, from South Asia to Africa, from Russia to the Caribbean and so on. And this might be the greatest opportunity for the world to close the gender gap.
Not everybody is as lucky as I was to be a girl born in France, with free access to computers and Internet in school. In many regions of the world girls suffer from having no (or little) access to education and jobs. Nevertheless, things are changing for the better. Globally, the gender education gap has been gradually shrinking since 1999 and today the number of girls and women who are passionate about new technologies is growing at an astonishing pace, especially in Africa.
As Thuli Sibeko, organizer of the annual Girls in ICT event in South Africa, recently explained in an interview with IT News Africa, the technology sector offers “an extraordinary opportunity” for girls and young women to forge successful careers. She also warned that governments need to actively encourage young girls to consider technology as a career option in order to address skills shortages and unemployment
On October 2012, the United Nations agency for information & communication technologies (ITU) launched the Tech Needs Girls initiative to “inspire more girls to embrace technology and invent the future” as well as a multilingual portal to help girls and young women prepare for and pursue a technology career.
The world is just realizing that the words “girls” and “technology” go along with inventing a better world. What do you think? Tell us in the comments.